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Reading Makes Everything Better

Reading aloud even makes statewide standardized test days more bearable. I volunteered to be a proctor during this week’s tests at my sons’ middle school. (Well, I was nudged into it by my middle child.) I was assigned to a 7th grade classroom with Mrs. Whitley, a reading teacher.

The first time I served as a proctor, a few years ago, I felt as miserable as the kids as we sat in a room with nothing to do and waited for everything to be in place for the testing to begin. In short order, I was casting around for anything to read. I grabbed the novel the social studies teacher was teaching and started reading — out loud. The kids looked at me like I had lost my mind, but they asked if I would continue after the tests had been completed and were on the way back to the test administrator.

Ever since, whenever I am talked into proctoring, I make sure I have a suitable book. Last year, for a class of 8th graders, I read from Walter Dean Myers’ book Fallen Angels. This year, I grabbed Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin. I reviewed the book here last year.

I always have to believe enough in what I am doing to bully through some of the initial reactions. Is this woman crazy? Is she really reading those words? Did she just say ‘yo’? Yo? I proctored two days and they asked me to make sure I brought the book back the next day. Several asked whether it was available at the school library. I told them how they could get it through the public library across the street, that they should pursue it through inter-library loan if it wasn’t in the collection.

Maybe they will and maybe they won’t, but I know they enjoyed spending time with Ray, Jose, Trini, and Yolie. It made it much more fun for me, too. (I’m still trying to figure out how to improve the experience of walking the floor for two and a half hours while they test.) Charlie Chaplin slow motion, maybe?

4 Responses to Reading Makes Everything Better

  • julie says:

    love it! Too bad this isn’t a requirement for every proctor.

  • Patty says:

    Wonderful

  • Peg Fisher says:

    Unless you are a certified teacher, how do you get to be a proctor for a state test? I love the idea of reading to the kids, though I usually put tangrams out for my students to experiment with when they are finished, since they can work on those individually, even if someone is still taking the test. Obviously I couldn’t read to the class if anyone was still taking the test.

  • Sarah says:

    Peg,
    In Mississippi, the state Department of Education requires that two people be with the test at all times. In addition to the certified teacher, there is a trained proctor in every classroom and several proctors are stationed in the hallway as hall monitors. Training is very simple and is administered by an assistant principal.
    The in-room proctor stays with the kids while the teacher and another proctor get the test from the official administrator and return the test to the official administrator. When I proctor, I read until the test books are distributed and then I read again after the test books have been taken up.
    In my room this week, two kids had an origami set; in my boys’ rooms, the kids were allowed to read; in another room I saw a girl with a crochet project; another teacher was passing out lanyards for the kids to braid.
    I think tangrams are a great idea, too, because, like you said, the kids can do them while others are still doing the test.

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